12 Years a Slave will not be considered entertainment by many. Caveat emptor: Steve McQueen is never light entertainment. You don’t have to go. It mightn’t be your thing. But you really should, because this film is bigger than an Oscar, or the five that it may or may not get. This is the first serious meditation that Hollywood has managed on America’s darkest institution and it took a black, Londoner to do it and he nailed it. Like or loathe his high brow, Tate Modern endorsed methods it is impossible to sit through this flick and not be overwhelmed by the raw power that is evoked by McQueen on the big screen.
It’s real, it’s brutal, it’s beautiful, it’s haunting, it’s human and it is film history.
Oh, and I nearly forgot, it’s based on the truest story: